Watson threw six of eight pitches for strikes in a scoreless eighth inning Monday. Following a three-game rut during which he allowed seven earned runs in 2.1 innings, Watson has compiled three holds in five scoreless frames in his last five games. The lefty registered his 13th hold Monday -- he totaled a NL-leading 41 holds in 2015.
Watson allowing two earned runs in one inning Sunday, marking the third straight outing in which the lefty has given up at least one earned run. Albert Pujols belted a high fastball over the left field wall for a two-run dinger. Watson, who's been touched up for seven earned runs in his last 2.1 innings, last surrendered runs in three consecutive games in May of 2013. His velocity is fine but he continues to find too much of the middle of the plate.
Watson will return from the paternity list Saturday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. He hasn't pitched since May 23 but has actually gone longer time periods in 2016 without appearing in a game. Pittsburgh will welcome the hard-throwing lefty back into the pen -- it wouldn't be surprising to see him available for Saturday's tilt.. Watson has lowered his earned-run average to 2.18 by stringing together 10 scoreless outings.
Watson was placed on the paternity list Wednesday. Watson will leave the team for a bit in order to attend to the birth of his child. The minimum stay on the paternity list is three days, so the left-hander could return to the Pittsburgh bullpen sometime over the weekend. In the meantime, right-hander Rob Scahill will take his spot in the bullpen after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Watson would likely serve as Pittsburgh's closer Wednesday if the team decides to rest Mark Melancon. Melancon has pitched in each of the last three days while Watson has appeared just one time since May 11. There's also a lesser chance Neftali Feliz could get the opportunity, based upon late-game matchups. Watson has recorded four holds and one win in his last six outings (all scoreless).